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Naira Vs Dollar: The Effect of CBN’s New Import Policy on Nigeria’s Currency – Sadiq Ilyas



By Sadiq Ilyas

Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, has experienced a marked decline in value following the government’s decision to introduce a flexible exchange rate during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The implications of this policy shift have been profound, impacting not only the country’s economy but also the daily lives of its citizens. This article delves into the intricate reasons behind the Naira’s depreciation, the far-reaching consequences for Nigeria’s economic landscape, and the recent changes in import policies introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Naira’s Downward Spiral

The Naira’s depreciation can be primarily attributed to Nigeria’s heavy dependence on imports. The country has been importing a vast array of products, ranging from basic items like toothpicks to major commodities. This import-heavy approach has placed substantial pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange reserves, exacerbating the depreciation of the Naira. As a result, domestically produced goods have found it challenging to compete with their imported counterparts, leading to surges in prices and an increased demand for foreign currencies.

The Impact of Import Bans

In response to these challenges, the Nigerian government imposed import bans on specific items that the nation was entirely capable of producing domestically. The primary objective was to stimulate local production, reduce the strain on foreign exchange reserves, and promote self-sufficiency. However, the consequences of this move were twofold. While it did indeed encourage local production, it also led to significant price hikes for essential items, such as food and cement. The domestic supply chain struggled to meet the surging demand, causing price increases, and further weakening the Naira’s value. The parallel market, in particular, witnessed a substantial deviation from the official exchange rate.

Central Bank’s Management and Multiple Exchange Rates

The Central Bank, under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele, implemented multiple exchange rates as an attempt to manage the situation. The approach involved different official rates for various sectors and purposes, such as manufacturing, petroleum, and other sectors. While this policy aimed to provide flexibility in foreign exchange allocation, it also allowed some individuals and entities to exploit the system. They obtained foreign currency at the official rates and subsequently sold it on the parallel market, leading to a further destabilization of the Naira.

Tinubu’s Administration and Economic Challenges

The subsequent administration under Tinubu took a bold step by removing fuel subsidies and banning multiple exchange rates. While these measures were intended to address economic challenges and promote transparency, they also brought about significant hardships for the population. Fuel prices surged dramatically, food prices doubled, and transportation costs saw significant increases, causing substantial challenges in the daily lives of Nigerians.

New Import Policy and Its Consequences

In a desperate move to ease the burden on the population, the federal government, through the CBN, introduced a new import policy. This policy allowed the importation of 43 previously banned items, such as rice, cement, and textiles. While this policy is expected to relieve pressure on consumers and businesses, it also brings with it potential consequences. The increased demand for foreign currency to facilitate imports could further undermine the development of local industries, exacerbating the foreign exchange challenges.

The CBN’s Response

The CBN, in a statement, announced the lifting of the ban on 43 items, permitting importers to access foreign exchange from the official market. While this move is intended to ease the challenges faced by importers and consumers, it poses potential risks. The surge in demand for foreign currency in the official market could lead to further depreciation of the Naira, as demand outpaces supply.

The recent changes in Nigeria’s import policies have far-reaching implications for the country’s currency and its overall economic landscape. While the government aims to strike a balance between economic growth and the welfare of its citizens, the Naira’s value remains vulnerable. The central bank’s measures may provide temporary relief, but the underlying challenges of foreign exchange management and heavy import reliance must be addressed for long-term economic stability. Achieving this balance will be a complex and ongoing process as Nigeria continues its journey toward economic resilience and self-sufficiency.

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